Gov. Kate Brown is giving the Oregon State Police (OSP) and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) jurisdiction over Portland this weekend in preparation of a planned far-right rally on Saturday. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) will work under OSP and MSCO—and all three law enforcement agencies will have the power to use CS gas (or tear gas), despite a recent ban from Mayor Ted Wheeler.
“I am incredibly concerned about the increased risk of violence this weekend," Brown said at a press conference Friday morning. “I need to do everything I can as governor to assure the safety of Oregonians.”
The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist organization with white supremacist ties that has staged violent rallies in Portland before, plans to hold a demonstration in Delta Park on Saturday. Left-wing and antifascist organizers are planning several counter-demonstrations, including one across the street from Delta Park. OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese will have jurisdiction over Portland for a 48-hour period on Saturday and Sunday, serving as joint incident commanders.
"You will see a massive influx of Oregon State Police troopers beginning tomorrow morning," Hampton said. "They will be saturating North Portland, Interstate 5, between the venues of Delta Park and Peninsula Park, with our colleagues, the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.”
Hampton and Reese will be working with with PPB Chief Chuck Lovell to police the rallies. Wheeler recently barred PPB from using CS gas to control protests, but under OSP's and MSCO's command, CS gas will be an option this weekend.
"We will not remove CS gas as a possibility from these events," Hampton said.
Brown said the decision to put OSP and MSCO in charge this weekend had Wheeler's input and support. She also consulted City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. The decision comes after OSP and MSCO declined to help police Saturday's events earlier this week, citing Wheeler's ban on CS gas as a reason.
Hampton declined to go into details about the policing strategy for Saturday, saying that "much of it is still in the planning phase.” But he did say his main goals would be to keep illegal weapons off the streets, and keep the far-right and antifascists protest groups physically separated.
Last month, PPB faced criticism for keeping its distance and failing to intervene at a far-right rally in downtown Portland, even as right-wing protesters waved around guns and other weapons. That strategy diverged from PPB's response to nightly protests against police brutality and racism, during which officers usually respond with force. Lovell responded by saying his force lacked adequate resources to intervene or keep the two groups separated.
Brown said that shouldn't be a problem law enforcement won't have this weekend.
“I am confident," she said, "that law enforcement is adequately resourced to handle the situation."